In a surprising reveal this morning Microsoft unveiled Xbox Game Pass, a brand new subscription service for Xbox One. For $9.99 a month members get access to over 100 games, including some pretty big ones. The program will be rolling out this Spring to all Xbox gamers, but will get the usual early test period with Xbox Insiders.
“At Xbox, we put gamers at the center of everything we do and remain committed to giving you the freedom to play the games you want, with the friends you want, on the devices you want,” reads the announcement. “This year is shaping up to be an exciting one for gamers. As we prepare to launch Project Scorpio this holiday, bringing the most powerful console ever made to the Xbox One family of devices, we continue to make platform improvements to connect the growing community of players on Xbox Live and add to a robust and diverse portfolio of games across Xbox One and Windows 10.”
Games featured in the announcement include Halo 5: Guardians, Saint’s Row IV, Mad Max, NBA 2K16, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, and many more. The full list has yet to be revealed, but with headliners like this Xbox Game Pass is off to a pretty good start.
The program seems to be modeled after EA Access, a successful subscription program that began life on Xbox One before adding in PC. The Vault is the main feature there, letting players download and play a selection of titles at no additional cost. Like EA Access, Xbox Game Pass gives you access to games, but the selection seems much wider.
It’s also important to note that an Xbox Live Gold membership does not seem to be required for access to Xbox Game Pass. Members of Xbox Live will get early access to the program, but those without the paid subscription can likely get the pass simply by paying for it.
Xbox Game Pass also gives members special discounts on digital game purchases. “Love an Xbox One game and want to own it? Interested in an add-on or Season Pass for a title you’re playing in the Xbox Game Pass catalog? Save 20% on Xbox One game purchases and 10% on all related add-ons, but only while the base game is currently in the catalog.”
Xbox Game Pass is similar to the PlayStation Now program, with one big difference. The games you get on Xbox Game Pass are downloaded just like any other game, as opposed to streaming over the internet. This is mentioned in the FAQ, saying “Based on fan feedback, streaming/connectivity issues were identified as a major pain point for competing game subscription services. That’s why games on Xbox Game Pass will be downloaded to your Xbox One, providing fans with a native, full-fidelity gaming experience and the ability to play downloaded games offline for up to 30 days.”
Xbox Game Pass will only be available on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC devices. It is not clear yet which games will be available on either platform. Currently Halo 5 is not playable on Windows 10 outside of a limited Forge experience.